kottke.org posts about software

The last of the great Twitter appsJul 30 2014

Hi, everybody! Tim Carmody here, guest-hosting for Jason this week.

There are fewer third-party Twitter applications in active development than there used to be, since Twitter built its own clients, clamped down on apps that "replicate Twitter's core user experience," limited the number of new user tokens third parties could get, and otherwise kinda spiked the well.

But there are still some gems out there, including some I was surprised I'd never heard of. Joanna Geary, Twitter's head of news in the UK, recently put together a shortlist of 30 third-party webapps useful for journalists. Here are three I've been using and enjoying:

  1. Followerwonk includes a number of useful searching and sorting tools, some free, some paid. I was especially impressed that it can give an inferred gender breakdown of your follows and followers that includes "undetermined" as a category. (A lot of other tools break everything down into male and female, which isn't a good binary for human bodies, let alone the zoography of Twitter.) Being able to search Twitter bios is useful too.
  2. TweetBe.at is a list manager. Twitter's been neglecting lists -- on the website "Lists" is even hidden behind an otherwise superfluous "More" button, inside your own profile -- but they're really useful. It's just that even in the best third-party apps, it's not easy to add or edit them. This fills that gap.
  3. My favorite Twitter tool right now is BioIsChanged, which (you might guess) tracks bio and avatar changes for the folks you follow on Twitter. You can see when someone changed jobs, took a new headshot, or otherwise tweaked what they're about online. What I like best is its customization: you can get new bio notifications in real-time (too much for me!), in daily or weekly digest emails (perfect!), or just whenever you check into the website. I'm getting better at pretending to be superhumanly attentive already.

Two other Twitter tools worth trying that aren't part of Geary's list but are worth a look:

I just started with Nuzzel, but it comes highly recommended by Christopher Mims and Lauren Goode, two reporters whose judgment I trust. Like Flipboard and Newsle and a handful of others, it pulls web links from your Twitter and Facebook feeds, sorting them by the most-shared. A good way to see what everybody's talking about at a glance.

And Happy Friends is a mailbox/outline reader for Twitter that's hard to explain but fun to use once you get into it. It's not like anything else out there, which might be the best compliment I can give it.

Update: I missed an app that I've been using for so long and so often that I forgot to mention it. ThinkUp, which offers "analytics for humans." The best thing about ThinkUp are its email "insights" digests, which tell me things like which users I'm talking to most often, whether I'm retweeting too many of my own replies (hint: when I asked you what you name your computers yesterday, I retweeted probably a few too many of your answers), and other little mini-analyses.

I also have to put in a plug for YoruFukurou, my favorite client for Mac. (I hope your tokens don't run out, YF.) It's a customizable, high-powered app that handles lists and spam reporting and link and image expansion well, but it doesn't have that oh-my-god, Ozymandias-watching-30-TV-screens-at-once thing that TweetDeck has. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

Adobe has released the beta version ofJan 09 2006

Adobe has released the beta version of a program called Lightroom (OS X only), a competitor to Apple's Aperture. Both are pro-level apps for manipulating and organizing digital photos. Here's the story of Lightroom's development from one of its developers. (via df)

A list of iPhoto 5 annoyances. I wishDec 14 2005

A list of iPhoto 5 annoyances. I wish iPhoto were as finished a product as iTunes is. (via df?)

Khoi Vinh reports on computer technology inDec 13 2005

Khoi Vinh reports on computer technology in Vietnam. They're wired for broadband and Windows still dominates.

Adobe is planning on combining Flash PlayerDec 06 2005

Adobe is planning on combining Flash Player and Acrobat Reader? As Todd says, "I don't know about you, but I just got an acrid taste in my mouth".

Update: John Dowdell notes that Adobe has clarified their position re: the above combination: "we will continue delivering the Flash Player as a small, efficient runtime for content and applications on the web". (thx, neil)

Shaun Inman's Mint stats package contains aOct 31 2005

Shaun Inman's Mint stats package contains a great easter egg. Just key in the Konami cheat code (up up, down down, left right, left right, b, a) and you're greeted with a custom graphic. More old school video game-inspired easter eggs on web sites please.

An excellent John Gruber piece on theOct 17 2005

An excellent John Gruber piece on the life cycle of the independent Mac developer, using for an example Brent and Sheila Simmons, whose company Ranchero was recently sold to NewsGator.

Clive Thompson on Life Hackers in theOct 16 2005

Clive Thompson on Life Hackers in the NY Times. I'd informally heard about the benefit of larger screens on productivity (I feel more productive with a larger screen), but this article describes some study results: "On the bigger screen, people completed the tasks at least 10 percent more quickly - and some as much as 44 percent more quickly."

The Onion: Project Manager Leaves Suicide PowerPointOct 11 2005

The Onion: Project Manager Leaves Suicide PowerPoint Presentation. "We all got Ron's message loud and clear when that JPEG of his wife wipe-transitioned to a photo of her tombstone". (via mathowie)

Movable Type turns four years old.Oct 10 2005

Movable Type turns four years old.

Is PowerPoint responsible for the woes ofSep 07 2005

Is PowerPoint responsible for the woes of the Space Shuttle? Well, no, but it's not helping any. "The deeper problem with the PowerPointing of America -- the PowerPointing of the planet, actually -- is that the program tends to flatten the most complex, subtle, even beautiful, ideas into tedious, bullet-pointed bureaucratese."

A timeline of splash screen graphics forAug 16 2005

A timeline of splash screen graphics for Adobe Photoshop. I didn't know that Photoshop was developed outside of Adobe and then licensed later. (thx mark)

Vanilla is a smooth-looking piece of forum softwareJul 22 2005

Vanilla is a smooth-looking piece of forum software.

Some iPhoto 5 tips and techniques for managing your digital photosJul 20 2005

Some iPhoto 5 tips and techniques for managing your digital photos.

Makers of the PulpFiction newsreader for OSJul 12 2005

Makers of the PulpFiction newsreader for OS X sold to illumineX. Congrats to Erik and the team...sounds like a much needed rest.

Richard Stallman on the absurdity of software patentsJun 24 2005

Richard Stallman on the absurdity of software patents. Stallman draws a parallel between software patents and hypothetical literature patterns.

A map of Firefox usage in EuropeJun 08 2005

A map of Firefox usage in Europe. 30.5% in Finland and almost 25% in Germany.

The next version of Internet Explorer will have tabbed browsingMay 16 2005

The next version of Internet Explorer will have tabbed browsing.

FontLab buys Fontographer from Macromedia and plans for future upgradesMay 12 2005

FontLab buys Fontographer from Macromedia and plans for future upgrades.

Keyword Assistant plug-in fixes iPhoto's stupid ass keyword-adding interfaceApr 22 2005

Keyword Assistant plug-in fixes iPhoto's stupid ass keyword-adding interface. Software developers, say it with me: "auto complete, auto complete, auto complete!"

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