Tech: Twitter Convergence

>> Thursday, January 24, 2008



Just showing off a sweet convergence of programs I’ve got running… First off, I use Twitter. I only have a couple of followers/followees (and of the followees only one posts with any regularity) so I haven’t really even explored the social micro-blogging aspect of the tool. Might be interesting to delve into; I’ve read about a lot of other uses Twitter has in this respect, such as creating a corporate identity, say MRMPLS, and having all its employees follow it for quick announcements wherever they may be. Could be useful. Even if you don’t have a text-messaging plan, as I do not, Twitter can be very useful. In fact, it’s easier to use if you add the Twitter bot to your IM list.

If I can veer a little off-subject for a moment, I’d also like to mention www.meebo.com here. I may have talked about it before, but it’s ultra-convenient in that it has nearly all the features of all the regular IM clients, but it’s online and does not need to be installed. Thus, the preferences and friends lists that you have on it (such as the Twitter bot) carry with you from computer to computer – you have your regular access anywhere you are.

I’ve found Twitter is most useful as a gateway, feeding data into other programs. On Facebook I’ve installed TwitterSync which polls my Twitter status and applies any newly-posted change to my Facebook status. This is nice because I can post once and announce twice, so to speak. (I thought for one week that TwitterSync was causing some problems with my status, but now I’ve realized it was the alpha version of 8hands – another cool toy but not ready for prime time just yet)

I’m into health-related issues in a big way, and thus I have stumbled onto www.tweetwhatyoueat.com. This lets you track what you eat (and, optionally, the calories you consume) by direct-messaging through Twitter. I’ve used other diet-recording software/sites such as www.sparkpeople.com, but this is SO much easier because with Twitter you’re always logged in. An online calorie lookup service (www.acaloriecounter.com, www.thedailyplate.com, etc.) is convenient if you do use this.

You can also tweet your appointments to your calendar if you use www.rememberthemilk.com (RTM) – complete with a time for the appointment – by simply sending something like, “dental appointment @ may 5th 8:00PM” If you’ve set RTM up properly, this will the propagate to your Google calendar. I’ve even gone so far as to purchase a copy of Rainlendar which mixes my Outlook and multiple Google calendars together for one convenient desktop display.

4 comments:

RentalsGuy 1:04 AM  

Where to start? First off...it sounds like Twitter is becoming the bloggers best friend lately. I was reading a series at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/01/25/how-to-use-twitter-tips-for-bloggers/ on that very topic this morning.

With regard to calendars...I purchased OggSync (www.Oggsync.com) a couple of months ago because it has a plug-in for Outlook that allows you to custom sync your Google Calendars with an Exchange calendar. The reason I wanted to do this was because I wanted my personal (and private!) Outlook information in my Outlook at home, but I'm connect to the work Exchange server. Oggsync lets me create individual calendars in Google and assign them to categories in Outlook. I get to pick and choose which calendars go to Exchange and which ones stay on my local PST. The kicker for me was that it also has a client for Windows Mobile so I can keep all my work and personal items together on my PDA and Outlook - while not giving up my data to the corporate hawks.

Call me old fashioned, but I really don't like online applications. RTM looks interesting, but I like have my application (and data) local. If I don't have access to the Internet - I can't get my data. That's a killer for me.

Winkyboy 10:45 AM  

Aren't you already on Plaxo, RentalsGuy? I believe even the free version of Plaxo will keep your calendars properly synched, and with ActiveSync for hooking your PDA to Outlook, your Google calendar changes should successfully migrate all the way there.

I haven't tested OggSync at all - I don't suppose it has any sort of Gmail contacts sync in there? That seems to be the holy grail of synchronization. :(

RentalsGuy 10:56 AM  

You are right...however, Activesynce does not let you pick and choose which Calendars to sync...it sees the Calendar as, well a Calendar. What OggSync lets you do is create "Virtual" calendars in Outlook by assigning a category to items in that category and then syncing that category of calendar items to separate calendars in Google. Then, with the Windowsmobile version of Oggsync, you can selectively import/export calendar items based on the category.

If I did as you suggested...whatever I had in my Calendar on my PDA would synce back to Exchange - regardless of the category. So, my "Personal" categories would sync via ActiveSync just like my "Work" ones. Right now I run Oggsync in Outlook and it will pull my "Work" categories and place them on the Exchange-shared Calendar while all of my "Personal" categories sync to Calendars which I keep on my local .PST file...thus I can separate personal and work items on the Exchange server but keep them all together in my personal copy of Outlook as well as on my PDA.

Plaxo's professional version has a Windows Mobile sync that does the same kind of thing but I found it to be a bit quirky and it wanted to rename a bunch of my calendars to suite Plaxo's format. I didn't know about the Plaxo setup until after I paid for a 1 year subscription to Oggsync...so we'll see at the end of my year with OGG whether it makes sense to keep using it, or to switch to Plaxo. Since I've got a Comcast broadband account, I get the professional version of Plaxo for free...so there's a definite cost advantage!

Winkyboy 11:09 AM  

"Since I've got a Comcast broadband account, I get the professional version of Plaxo for free..."

WHAT! Dang, I did not know that! Thank you! I just sent off an email to Plaxo to see if I could get a refund, as I'm already Comcast, too.

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