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Following Twitter and Facebook

March 2nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

I’ve been looking for something desktop based that would alert me to twitter and facebook (primarily) updates on a more realtime basis. It doesn’t do me any good to have Twitter or Facebook pages open in a browser and constantly be checking there. I thought I’d be able to follow Twitter updates within Google Reader but unfortunately they don’t update often enough and the timestamps they pull don’t seem to be right (ie. they are timestamped at the time the feed is pulled in rather than when the post is actually made).

I finally settled on AlertThingy although it still isn’t doing the job 100% like I would like I haven’t been able to find anything else nearly as close to it.

Besides handling Twitter and Facebook it will also grab updates from Amazon, Basecamp, Digg, Flickr, Huddle, Jaiku,, TinyURL, Tumblr, TwitPic, Twitter Search, Yammer and any RSS feed.

So far its been working really well for Twitter and Facebook and a very small set of RSS feeds that I’d like to know about instantly. Facebook and Twitter updates seem to come in within minutes so that is good enough.

AlertThingy still needs a bit of work but so far it works really well. One problem is that the popup notifications don’t stay on screen long enough and it is not configurable. So, I barely have time to read what its about and usually miss it and then have to pull up the application to read the full entry.

Its also an Adobe AIR application so I had to install that for the first time. I really had no use for it before this.

Update: Didn’t think to check IM programs. Looks like Digsby has all this built in but I’m not interested (yet) in changing my IM program. Also Trillian Astra seems to have all this built in as well. I haven’t been too happy with Trillian’s speed with getting that out of beta though. I have a feeling they aren’t concentrating much on the “free” versions of stuff anymore.

Another Update: I found if you are looking for a Twitter only solution TweetDeck seems pretty good. You do need a Twitter account but you don’t need to be following anybody as you can add searches which work out really nicely.

Category: General

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 brentashley // Mar 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    I know you want something that aggregates multiple sources, but FWIW, I’m using TwitterFox to follow Twitter.

    Although I think it’s a cool technology, I find many Adobe Air apps annoying. It’s likely more the problem of the implementation, but I find they often disregard UI conventions re moving/resizing/chrome/widgets etc. Not only that, but on my Ubuntu build at least they seem to have as much load-time and overhead as a full Java VM app.

  • 2 Tim A // Mar 2, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Yeah, I checked out TwitterFox and a bunch of others but they weren’t doing it for me. Plus, like you noticed, I’m looking for one that aggregates a number of sources and is NOT browser based. Browser based would be alright as I typically have a browser open 24/7 anyway but still.

    I find that just about every one of them that I’ve checked out for Twitter requires you to have a Twitter account and actually followed people. Don’t need that with AlertThingy. Don’t recall if I checked out TwitterFox but most likely.

    Yeah, I’m not entirely sold on AIR either and like I stated this was the first time I was interested enough in installing it. I tried checking out other apps that I might be interested in but the site is so terrible I gave up. I doubt there is anything else worthwhile. Still evaluating the load and overhead on Windows here!!!

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