What do you think of the new @TweetDeck? My initial impressions…

tweetdeck-new

A couple of days I excitedly downloaded and installed the latest version of TweetDeck, the social networking application that is now being developed by Twitter themselves.

What a disappointment! What have they done to it?!

Can’t distinguish columns

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve always had some fairly major niggles with TweetDeck’s usability, particularly if you’re using it to manage multiple accounts. There is no easy, quick, don’t-make-me-think way to distinguish which column is associated with which account.

The addition of a tabs option, or colour-coding columns would go a long way to making the system easier to use. In my humble opinion.

Customisable notifications

But what TweetDeck did excel at, that the likes of Sobees and MetroTwit didn’t was its handling of multiple accounts, and the flexibility in terms of column placement, notifications customisation (what shows, when and where).

That flexibility, particularly in the area of notifications, has now gone in the new instance of TweetDeck. I’m sorry to see it go—it was very useful.

Posting an update

The new TweetDeck also seems to assume that you’ll always be using it in a full-screen (maximized) view. Old TweetDeck worked well in maximized view too, but at least you could still post an update when viewing only one column.

In the old TweetDeck the post-an-update window sits at the top of the column. In the new TweetDeck, however, the post an update window disappears off the edge of the viewport:

tweetdeck-old-postupdatetweetdeck-new-postupdate

The send update keyboard shortcut has also changed, from Enter to Ctrl+Enter (on Windows), which takes a bit getting used to.

Social network(s)

When it launched TweetDeck supported only Twitter, but it soon added Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google Buzz and Foursquare. I used to use just Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn within TweetDeck.

When I logged into the new TweetDeck I saw only Twitter and Facebook. That said, within the options I can’t actually see how you would add a Facebook account—but maybe it only allows one, which kind of makes sense, and so these settings have been hidden.

I can understand why Twitter might want to limit the number of rival networks it allows you to access using their application. But similarly, I do wonder if this will drive users away to find other clients that do support the wider range of services that they use.

Private messages

One really neat feature that I loved, and didn’t really think about until it was taken away, about the direct (private) messages (DM) column in old TweetDeck was that you could also see the DMs that you sent other people.

Conclusion

In conclusion I have to say that I’m really disappointed with the new TweetDeck. In many ways it has become less useable and less useful. I suspect that over the next few weeks I’ll evaluate the other social media clients and move to one of those.

In the meantime I still have TweetDeck 0.38.2 installed, so I’ll continue to use it.

  • Old TweetDeck — 7/10
  • New TweetDeck — 3/10

Update

There’s an interesting review by David Bayon on the PC Pro blogs entitled New TweetDeck: more mainstream, less flexible which has one paragraph of the positives of the new version and nine paragraphs of the negatives.

His conclusion:

…for me the new client takes away much of what made TweetDeck so useful – namely the flexibility and control – and replaces it with much of what makes the Twitter web client so annoying. I don’t like the Twitter web interface, that’s why I use TweetDeck. Or at least it was until now. The former buying the latter means that distinction is only going to get narrower from here on in.

Is the BBC News website really a porn site?

With the boys getting a bit older and taking more of an interest in the internet I’ve started looking into installing an internet filter to protect them while we’re browsing online.

There have been a couple of times when I’ve clicked on an innocent-looking video title on YouTube, for example, only to discover that’s it’s not as advertised. Like rickrolling, but more sinister.

While researching Google Chrome extensions I discovered this one called Christian Anti-Porn:

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What it lacks in pornography it more than makes up for in gruesome images, this one taken from the Mel Gibson-directed ‘horror movie’ The Passion of the Christ (2004).

I installed it—fully understanding that it’s not a complete internet filter package—and gave it a quick test. What if I were to try to visit the Playboy UK website, for example? Sure enough, it blocked it, showed me a bloody and gruesome photograph of Our Lord on the cross, and a couple of inspirational verses from the Bible:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries (Heb 10:26-27).

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isa 53:5)

Great! It works, I thought.

By “works”, I mean it prevented me from viewing a pornographic website. I certainly didn’t feel inspired by it. It didn’t make me feel any closer to God. I think it may have had something to do with the horrific photograph of a man being tortured to death on the page.

I know that the cross is central to the message of the Gospel. But actually, I’m with Jürgen Moltmann on this one: you can’t separate the crucifixion from the resurrection. It was the crucifixion of the resurrected Christ; the resurrection of the crucified Christ.

Surely they could have found a more inspirational photograph. Like a sunset, or a butterfly, or a waterfall.

Anway, I didn’t think any more of it and carried on with my evening’s browsing. I was working on my last blog post about browser new tab pages, and testing my new myfav.es bookmarks.

Imagine my surprise when I visited the BBC News website:

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The BBC News website is porn?!

But I’ve got an app for that installed on my mobile phone.

And Facebook was blocked too. Apparently, it’s also a porn site. I didn’t know that. My Mum’s on Facebook!

And Google+ is too, it would appear.

I’ve uninstalled it. I’ll look for something else. But for now at least I know to keep the boys away from watching the news.

Giving up Twitter and Facebook for Lent

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For the last few weeks as we have been approaching Lent (which begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday) I’ve been considering what to take up this year as my Lenten discipline.

Those forty days before Easter are traditionally a time of preparation for Christians to observe and celebrate the death and resurrection of the crucified Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. It is a time for prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial.

Most years I give up chocolate; I want to do that again this year. Some years I choose to take up something rather than give something up, such as more reading or exercise.

Giving up social media

These last few weeks I’ve been considering giving up social media for Lent: namely Twitter and Facebook, and instead blogging more and getting in touch in person with friends more. (I mentioned this at the other place last week.)

I’m still in two minds about it, the evening before Ash Wednesday, but I have already uninstalled the Facebook and moTweets apps from my phone and started to remove Twitter clients from my PC.

I’ve decided that whatever I decide I will continue to send tweets from my work account during office hours, where appropriate, because that is a part of my job but I won’t keep my Twitter client open unless I’m making and update or checking for @mentions.

The reasons against giving it up

I guess the most compelling reason for me not to give up social media during Lent is to share with the world what I am doing: how my Lenten disciplines are affecting me, something about Christian witness.

…but then again, that’s all about me and not entirely in the spirit of self-denial.

The reasons for giving it up

When I first joined Facebook a few people greeted me with something along the lines of “welcome to the greatest time-waster in the world!” How many hours have I wasted browsing through page upon page of status updates and notifications that Bob has been gifted a new sheep from Colin?

These last few months I’ve found myself struggling with Twitter and Facebook for all sorts of reasons.

Twitter

With Twitter the main problem is that the message stream updates so quickly, especially when using a client such as TweetDeck that updates in real time. There is then a certain anxiety about missing ‘something important’: that life-changing URL announcing an exciting new Web service, that critical status update from a friend (or ‘friend’), the latest news headline from the BBC. Which is, of course, nonsense!

The other thing is that 140 characters really isn’t long enough to express yourself adequately. Twitter is often referred to as a ‘micro-blogging’ service, but it has made me lazy. It’s the fast-food of blogging: quick and instantly gratifying. But it doesn’t last: have you tried searching for posts you made 4 months ago?

Facebook

With Facebook the problem is voyeurism: it’s easy to watch people, their status updates and photo uploads and think that you are somehow involved in their lives. I’ve felt frustrated these last few months that I’ve not been able to interact with friends more in real life and I suppose I’ve used Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter, as a substitute.

Which is not to say that either Twitter or Facebook are bad in themselves, I guess they have simply helped foster the laziness that is already in me to withdraw into myself and not engage with others more.

I heard someone joking recently that Facebook is for connecting with people you have met in real life but to whom you don’t speak now, while Twitter is for connecting with people you’ve never met but to whom you chat all the time.

What others are saying

There’s an interesting article on Silicon Republic today about giving up Facebook for Lent:

Dan Hues, associate pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fresno, California, told The Fresno Bee that the point of Lent is a time in which to grow closer to God.

“The point is to leave selfish behaviour behind you, to put off the ‘self.’ Facebook is almost a shrine to yourself, with pictures, status updates, seeing if people ‘like’ you. It’s all about you,” Hues said.

I have to admit that I don’t see my Facebook account like that at all. I see it more as offering to other people, whether it’s sharing photos of my family with friends, or silly comments in the hope that it may make them smile.

JD Walt on his blog wrote an article last Thursday entitled “Why giving up social media for Lent misses the point…part 2” in which he argues:

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, [Jesus] was hungry.” Matthew 4:2

“He was hungry.” Something about giving up Facebook for Lent doesn’t exactly make me hungry. In my understanding, fasting in the biblical tradition involves two seemingly polarized realities: fasting and feasting. At the heart of both is food, not Facebook.

[…] With respect to social media, (which admittedly can create a lot of distraction) I think the better approach is to ask how social media can cultivate attentiveness to God and others.

But surely Lent is about more than fasting, it’s also about self-denial and discipline. It’s about consciously making more space for your relationship with God and if something is acting as a distraction, as I have certainly allowed Twitter and Facebook to become at times, then surely the most responsible action is to step away from it for a while.

See you after the resurrection

Now this could all go fabulously well and on Sunday 24 April I’ll be in some kind of cleansed, Zen-like state of tranquility. Or I’ll be addicted to Bebo, LinkedIn and My Space!

I’ll see you at @gareth after the resurrection.

Considering giving up social media for Lent

A friend of mine—who on Twitter goes by the name of @gedrobinson and in real life goes by the name of Ged Robinson— tweeted this earlier today:

One week left on Twitter, deciding giving Twitter, Facebook and alcohol up for Lent. (St Pats excepted of course)

One week left on Twitter, deciding giving Twitter, Facebook and alcohol up for Lent. (St Pats excepted of course)

and he got me thinking: what a great idea!

I’m going to give it some thought over the next few days and try to write more about it at the other place.

I certainly would like to spend more time blogging: writing longer, more considered posts rather than the fast-food, 140 character offerings that I spit out daily on Twitter and occasionally Facebook. (Hence the three posts in rapid succession this evening.)

Lots of good stuff to consider.

Curmudgeons

Seriously?! There’s a group on Facebook called: “1,000,000 AGAINST THE NEW FACEBOOK LAYOUT!

Come on folks … it’s called progress. Everything changes.  Even you.  Are you the same person you were five years ago?  I think not.

Right, I’m off to start a new group called “1,000,000 AGAINST THE NEW UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS WEBSITE LAYOUT”.

Hah! That’ll show those meddling Web managers…!

Facebook question

This has had me laughing on and off for the last 12 hours or more.

On Facebook there’s a My Questions application where your friends can pose questions and you can offer answers.

Michael Shearing asked the question:

Q. What would you class as the perfect night at home?

My cynical answer was this:

A. Not getting burgled.

I’m still laughing at it. Could there be a more ‘bah humbug!’ answer?